Tick Diseases You Need to Know About in the United States

What is a Disease Vector?

Vectors can be described as organisms that carry infectious bacteria, viruses, and parasites from one person or animal to another. However, for most cases, a vector refers to blood-feeding insects and ticks.

These vectors may transmit the pathogen from person to person or as it happens from an animal host (for example, a bird or a rodent) to people as well.

Pest control is one of the most effective ways to get rid of any tick-borne diseases. Routine spraying can help you get rid of all and any possible vectors and prevent most of the vector-borne diseases. Learn more about tick-borne diseases that can bring symptoms of irregular heartbeat, allergies to red meat, brain damage, and more.

 

Lyme Disease

It’s the most prevalent tick-borne disease in the United States. Approximately 300,000 cases of Lyme Disease are reported annually. Given that, there is also an unknown number of undiagnosed or misdiagnosed cases of Lyme, which means the number could be much higher.

Common symptoms of Lyme disease include chills, headache, fever, and muscle/joint stiffness. Other severe symptoms may consist of a widespread rash, severe headache, severe joint pain, dizziness, memory loss, irregular heartbeat, or even facial paralysis.

The black-legged tick is a common vector of Lyme disease in the Northeast and Upper Midwest states of the U.S. while the western black-legged tick is responsible for spreading the bacteria in the Western coastal region.

Read this article What Is Lyme Disease and How to Avoid It for a bit more information on Lyme Disease hot spots, preventative action, and more.

 

Ehrlichiosis

Ehrlichiosis is a tick-borne bacterial disease that causes flu-like symptoms.

The signs of the illness may range from mild body aches to severe fever. However, these symptoms usually appear within the first week or two after the tick bite and, if treated early, helps the person recover quickly.

The lone star tick, found in the eastern United States, is the most common vector of Ehrlichiosis.

To find out more about Ehrlichiosis, read our guide on What Is Ehrlichiosis and How to Avoid It.

 

Anaplasmosis

Human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA) is an infectious disease caused by Anaplasma phagocytophilum.  It’s an intracellular bacterium that is typically transmitted to humans by ticks that also transmit Lyme Disease and other tick-borne diseases.

The bacteria typically infects the white blood cells to change the gene expression to prolong its life.

Signs and symptoms of Anaplasmosis, similar to Babesiosis, include fever, chills, muscle/joint pain, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue/weakness, cough, diarrhea, loss of appetite.

Although the symptoms may appear minor, some severe complications may include respiratory failure, kidney failure, or even secondary infections.

The black-legged tick is primarily responsible for transmitting the Anaplasmosis infection in the U.S.

 

Babesiosis

Babesiosis is an infection caused by a tiny parasite called Babesia that infects the red blood cells. A tick bite is usually the cause of this parasitic infection.

Typically, it occurs at the same time as a Lyme Disease infection, since the tick that carries the Lyme bacteria can also be infected with the Babesia parasite.

The signs of the infection start with chills, high fever, muscle/joint pain, and fatigue but can also develop into chest/hip pain, shortness of breath, and extensive sweating. Some other rare symptoms may include severe headache, abdominal pain, nausea, bruising, or yellowing of the skin.

The black-legged tick is a common vector of the illness in the Northeast and Upper Midwest United States.

 

Rocky Mountain spotted fever

Rocky Mountain spotted fever is another bacterial infection caused by tick bites. If ignored in the initial stages, it can lead to severe damage to internal organs like the heart or kidney.

The American dog tick, brown dog tick, and Rocky Mountain wood tick are the primary vectors of the bacteria.

Although it was first spotted in the Rocky Mountains, the illness is more common in the southeastern parts of the United States.

Early signs include severe headache and high fever. But in the next few days, the body is likely to develop a rash on wrists and ankles as a reaction.

 

Tularemia

Tularemia, also called the rabbit fever, is a rare infectious disease that attacks the eyes, skin, lymph nodes, and lungs. It is caused by a bacterium called Francisella tularensis.

The disease usually affects mammals, especially rodents, rabbits, and hares. However, it can also infect sheep, pets, and birds. The symptoms depend on the form of Tularemia. Although a few common signs include high fever, fatigue, and any visible sign of skin ulcer or swollen lymph glands.

It can spread to humans through several routes, which include insect bites and/or direct exposure to an infected animal.

Tularemia is a highly contagious and potentially fatal illness, but can be treated effectively if diagnosed early.

 

Diseases & vectorsPest control

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